November 26, 2010
Browne: Continued sexual indiscipline is conducive to high HIV/AIDS cases

Executive Director of Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), Carl Browne, says that a legacy of continued sexual indiscipline is one of the main issues contributing to the high HIV/AIDS cases in the Caribbean.{{more}}

Browne’s comments came at the Annual General Meeting of the House of Hope Society last Saturday, November 20, at the Methodist Church Hall.

The meeting was held under the theme: “Adjustment, Accommodation and Enlargement”.

Browne noted that since 1999, the pool of persons living in the Caribbean with HIV has risen by nine percent. At that time, he noted that 35 percent of the total number of HIV cases in the Caribbean were females, spiking to 50 percent today.

This figure, said Browne, indicates high levels of risk and vulnerability among women, particularly young women, who show infection rates almost three times as high as their male counterparts.

However, on a brighter note, Browne said that the number of new infections in the Caribbean has declined by five percent, although considerably less than the global average of 17 percent.

In 1999, figures showed that less than one percent of persons with advanced HIV infection received anti-retroviral treatment, while the vast majority was left to languish and die.

Browne further reported that today, 48 percent of persons affected receive anti-retroviral treatment, resulting in a 40 percent decrease in HIV related deaths. He noted that since 1999, transmission of HIV from mother to child has been slashed by 60 percent, and more than 2,000 new-borns in the Caribbean have been spared from HIV infections.

Browne contended that in order for any civil society organisation such as the House of Hope to assure its continuing relevance, it must find adjustment and accommodation in the way it does business.

Browne also beseeched the House of Hope Society to exude visionary leadership, clarity of purpose and display a commitment to innovation and change among the broad membership.

“Stigma and discrimination has taken a root in the Caribbean, and St. Vincent and the House of Hope must continue to be a driving force in that regard,” he urged. Browne further implored the organization to play a catalytic role in lobbying government, social institutions, private sector and civil society in adopting anti-stigma policies and legislation that will release persons from discrimination.

The CEO’s report was presented by Anita Nanton. Nanton said since the birth of the society in 1999, they have taken on a number of projects to help those in need.

One of their latest projects is the addition of an upper floor to the House of Hope’s headquarters in Stoney Ground. Nanton said the project is dedicated to the life and work of Marcia Regisford, who died almost two years ago.

Nanton reported that the House of Hope has already acquired the services of architect Moulton Mayers, who has already prepared and submitted drawings of the plan for a hospice. According to estimates, the project is expected to cost the society EC$248,176.39.

Nanton said that the House of Hope continues to promote healthy lifestyle practices as part of their education awareness programme.